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The Reading Room

The Reading Room

A place for bibliophiles to share their thoughts on recent reads and well-loved tomes.
Books Set In... I hadn't seen this website before. Books are searchable by location. Advanced search adds genre, title, and author. You can also do a search via map.
Katy S
Ursula Le Guin receives National Book Foundation medal | Shelf Life | -
Ursula Le Guin receives National Book Foundation medal | Shelf Life |
"Every year, the National Book Foundation awards the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to an author “who has enriched our literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work.” Since the medal’s inception, authors spanning all genres have been honored, from David McCullough’s historical nonfiction to Ray Bradbury’s science fiction and everything in between. This year, the foundation has awarded the medal to Ursula Le Guin, whose body of sci-fi and fantasy work spans dozens of novels, short stories, and poems." - Katy S from Bookmarklet
All I have to say, is the genre snobs better not treat her award like they treated Stephen King's award. - Katy S
I was gonna say. The Lit'ry Establishment gets the vapors in 3... 2... 1... - RepoRat
Really, I don't know if they could be worse than they were when King got the award in 2003. - Katy S
The one reason they might muzzle it is if they know that Ursula K. CALLS THAT SHIT OUT. - RepoRat
True. Of course, King called them out in his speech. I was so happy when that happened. - Katy S
daaaamn. I don't read horror, and am not a fan of King's work, but I am now a fan of King himself. - RepoRat
I read a lot of his work when I was a teen and tween, then it tapered off. I still enjoy his short stories, though. Now, when I read horror, it tends to be more along the lines of Lovecraft, Blackwood, or Machen. Regardless, the snobbishness of some of the reactions when he received the award were ridiculous. I love that he came back at them. Also, I love all of the things he said about his wife in this. - Katy S
Katy S
brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists -
brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists
This one is excellent. - Katy S from Bookmarklet
Oooh. *promptly orders for mpow* - Soup in a TARDIS
Musashi: An Epic Novel of the Samurai Era
From the foreword by Edwin O. Reischauer: "Musashi might well be called the Gone with the Wind of Japan. Written by Eiji Yoshikawa (1892-1962), one of Japan's most prolific and best-loved popular writers, it is a long historical novel, which first appeared in serialized form between 1935 and 1939 in the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's largest and most prestigious newspaper. It has been published in book form no less than fourteen times, most recently in four volumes of the 53-volume complete works of Yoshikawa issued by Kodansha. It has been produced as a film some seven times, has been repeatedly presented on the stage, and has often been made into television mini-series on at least three nationwide networks." - Eivind
"Miyamoto Musashi was an actual historical person, but through Yoshikawa's novel he and the other main characters of the book have become part of Japan's living folklore. They are so familiar to the public that people will frequently be compared to them as personalities everyone knows. This gives the novel an added interest to the foreign reader. It not only provides a romanticized... more... - Eivind
Soooo, who's read it? *raises hand* :) - Eivind
Not yet, but I'll give it a look. - Todd Hoff
It was an enjoyable contrast to Shogun :) - Eivind from Android
New book club next year, run by the Information Services dept. For the 2015 list, I'm supposed to turn in two suggestions soon. Preferably non-fiction. Preferably about current-ish events. Any ideas?
I read this last year (after seeing it posted around here) Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick. I thought it was well told, especially reconstructed from fairly different sources. - Jennifer Dittrich
Maybe MfPOW's Go Big Read selection, _I Am Malala_? - RepoRat
Flash Boys by Michael Lewis or Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver for finance/data current events. Or danah boyd's it's complicated - Hedgehog from Android
Thanks. I'll take a look at these and decide tomorrow. - Betsy
I've read the book about North Korea but didn't remember what it was called (and didn't bother trying to find out). Thanks for the reminder. - Betsy
Spidra Webster
Back to (Tech) School Sale - Save 50% on All Ebooks & Videos - O'Reilly Media -
Back to (Tech) School Sale - Save 50% on All Ebooks & Videos - O'Reilly Media
"Spend More, Save More – Save 60% on orders greater than $100! Shop over 8,000 ebooks and videos from top technology publishers. Ebooks and videos from are DRM-free. You get free lifetime access, multiple formats, and free updates. Sync with Dropbox, Drive, Kindle—your files, anywhere. Use discount code B2S4 – Deal expires September 9, 2014 at 5:00am PT, and cannot be combined with other offers. Offer does not apply to Print, or "Print & Ebook" bundle pricing." - Spidra Webster from Bookmarklet
Just wanted to share this with folks who might need tech books. - Spidra Webster
Spidra Webster
Veronica Mars fans, the new Veronica Mars novel is on sale for $1.99 in e-form on Amazon, iBookstore and Kobo.
It's pretty good, too! Feels like the next episodes after the movie, if it were a show. - Jennifer Dittrich from FFHound!
Reading Literature on Screen: A Price for Convenience? - -
"A team of researchers led by Anne Mangen at the University of Stavanger in Norway and Jean-Luc Velay at Aix-Marseille Université in France divided 50 graduate students — with equivalent reading habits and experience with tablets — into two groups and had them read the same short story by Elizabeth George (in French translation). One group read the story in paperback, the other on an Amazon Kindle DX. All the while, researchers measured the students’ reading time and their “emotional response” — using a standard psychology scale — to the text. Afterward, they were tested extensively on different aspects of the story. In most respects, there was no significant difference between the Kindle readers and the paper readers: the emotional measures were roughly the same, and both groups of readers responded almost equally to questions dealing with the setting of the story, the characters and other plot details. But, the Kindle readers scored significantly lower on questions about when events... more... - Jessie from Bookmarklet
I've wondered about that a bit - I relied on flipping back and forth in books in my English classes when pulling quotes for papers, and physically knowing where it was in the book seems to correlate (for me) with the "when" it happened in the book's timeline. I do fine with electronic vs. paper for light fiction, but heavier works seem to flow a lot better for me in paper. - Jennifer Dittrich
Yeah same with Jennifer the way my mind works i don't think i could have gotten my english studies done on an electronic format. Although the four boxes of novels and poetry would be easier to have lugged around all these years later. - Steve C Team Marina
Same here - it's a lot harder to remember when something happened with only the "% read" to go by. I also find it harder to pull quotes from ebooks because the quotes are often tied to what was happening in the story at that time. - Jessie
Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe - Transformers Wiki -
Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe - Transformers Wiki
If you or some kid (or former kid) you know was ever obsessed with Transformers, YOU WANT THIS BOOK. The Transformer pop-ups? Actually transform!!!!! My mind is blown. - Marianne from Bookmarklet
I uh. Kind of want this for myself. - RepoRat
RepoRat, my copy is absolutely for myself. I *might* let other people play with it. .So I say go for it :D. - Marianne
I need to see this. Reinhart does such good work. - Katy S
Now that I don't have to drive to work, I'm not listening to podcasts much. I miss the podcasts. However, 60 total minutes on the train every work day means I've already read two books in the past two weeks. Yay.
The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman ; and Abril Rojo, by Santiago Roncagliolo (review of the English translation here ) - Betsy
Honestly, that's the only thing I miss about a train commute - getting significant reading time every day, without other pressures besides snoozing. - Jennifer Dittrich
Jennifer Dittrich
Woo hoo! 35 books 'ahead of schedule' for the end of the challenge. At this point, I'm just excited to see how many I'll actually end up reading by the end of the year.
Ice cream flavors inspired by books (alas, not real flavors).
Spidra Webster
FYI "King Leopold's Ghost" is on special for $2.99 for Kindle or iBooks through 8/31.
That's a good book. - Eivind from Android
Melly - #TeamMarina
Fwd: This book sounds oddly familiar yet I'm pretty sure I haven't read a book by this title. Can anyone think of another book set in or around a timber plantation/mill? (via
Hail Augustus! But Who Was He? by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books -
Hail Augustus! But Who Was He? by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books
Hail Augustus! But Who Was He? by Daniel Mendelsohn | The New York Review of Books
"Compared to John Williams’s earlier novels, Augustus—the last work to be published by the author, poet, and professor whose once-neglected Stoner has become an international literary sensation in recent years—can seem like an oddity.* For one thing, it was the only one of his four novels to win significant acclaim during his lifetime: published in 1972, Augustus won the National Book Award for fiction." - Eivind from Bookmarklet
"The life of the first emperor is an ideal vehicle for a historical novel: Augustus is a figure about whom we know at once a great deal and very little, and hence invites both description and invention. The biographies and gossip, recording and conjecturing began in the emperor’s own lifetime. One Life was written by a friend and contemporary of Augustus’s who appears as a character in... more... - Eivind
Bookstores of Chicago (blog) "This is (becoming) a comprehensive list of experiences at the 100+ small and independent bookstores in the city of Chicago."
The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman, review: 'hugely likeable' - Telegraph -
The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman, review: 'hugely likeable' - Telegraph
The Rise and Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman, review: 'hugely likeable' - Telegraph
"High-quality intellectual! Yes, I mean you! You are thinking: What is Rise & Fall of Great Powers? Is history book? No! Is book for give big muscles? No, no! (After read this book, you still contain only small muscles. Sorry.) It is NOVEL about entire of world in last quarter-century, from end of Cold War, to up and down of America power, to tech revolution of today. But mostly, is novel about my favourite person, Tooly Zylberberg, and secrets of her life. I am careful now - danger I say too much. I give only bit more: Tooly is bookseller in countryside of Wales. Always, she is reading. But one story she never understand: story of her past. When she is girl, strange items happen. She is taken away, around Asia, Europe, America, for many years with mystery persons. Why for? I cannot say on back of book! One of mystery persons is me, Humphrey, old man from Russia who cheats in Ping-Pong and eats avocados. There is Sarah, who drives us crazy, and not in good way. Also, there is Duncan... more... - Eivind from Bookmarklet
I loved it :) - Eivind from Android
Is now on my Amazon wishlist. :^) - Friar Will
Sounds interesting, it's on my Kindle-Fiction list. :) - (Curtis) Alan Jackson
Hope you guys enjoy it :) - Eivind
2014 Locus Awards Winners. SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL: Abaddon’s Gate, James S.A. Corey / FANTASY NOVEL: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman / YOUNG ADULT BOOK: The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, Catherynne M. Valente / FIRST NOVEL: Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie.
A Word from Kenneth Branagh. "Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross introduced me properly to Shakespeare, strange but true."
"Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross introduced me properly to Shakespeare, strange but true. It was during an early English Literature class. Our reluctant group of novice Shakespeareans were all prepared for a turgid beginning to our high school literature studies. As a mixture of nervous dread and dull groans spread around the room, Mr. Grue, our teacher, brought out an ancient record player, which he placed on his desk. There was a little excitement. Perhaps he was going to play us a recording of Romeo and Juliet and at least save us the toe-curling embarrassment of reading this incomprehensible stuff aloud. "Listen to this," he announced in a voice that commanded attention. Imagine our surprise when out of this Edisonian contraption came the familiar strains of the chart hit "You Are Everything." Strains is the right word, as the number began with a low orgasmic growling the rang from the seriously Mr. Gaye and a soaringly moist response from Miss Ross's much affected soprano. Mr. Grue... more... - Betsy
Katy S
I'm really sad Walter Dean Myers died.
Katy S
Women Remember: A Roundtable Interview - Lightspeed Magazine -
Women Remember: A Roundtable Interview - Lightspeed Magazine
Women Remember: A Roundtable Interview - Lightspeed Magazine
Women Remember: A Roundtable Interview - Lightspeed Magazine
"Pat: If you ever want to see writers treated like rock stars, go to an American Library Association convention and watch for a YA genre writer to show up. The librarians don’t scream and faint, but it’s a near thing. I saw the reception for Robert Cormier, author of The Chocolate War. I don’t think anyone threw underwear at him, but I wouldn’t be surprised." - Katy S from Bookmarklet
If people at ALA really did start throwing underwear at authors, I'd want to be there to see it. - Katy S
It sort of happened for Neil himself (sorta) - Aaron the Librarian from Android
That would not surprise me. - Katy S from iPhone
Empire's Crossroads review – 'a strikingly assured history of the Caribbean' | Books | The Observer -
Empire's Crossroads review – 'a strikingly assured history of the Caribbean' | Books | The Observer
Empire's Crossroads review – 'a strikingly assured history of the Caribbean' | Books | The Observer
"At heart, Gibson may be diametrically opposed to empire apologists like Niall Ferguson, but she can also write about empire with a broad perspective, placing the history of the Caribbean in the context of major global developments. The Protestant Reformation emboldened northern Europeans to disregard papal orders and enter West Indian waters. The French Revolution was an important catalyst for the uprising on Saint-Domingue that led to Haitian independence. And Napoleon's invasion of Spain helped bring about the collapse of its New World empire, which vanished entirely when Cuba and Puerto Rico fell under American influence in 1898. That does not mean events in the Caribbean have merely been a sideshow. As its title implies, Empire's Crossroads puts the region at the centre of clashes between the European powers (although one wonders if it should have been called Empires' Crossroads), noting the influence it has had – for good or ill – on industrialisation, the concept of human... more... - Eivind from Bookmarklet
Katy S
Are there any authors whose work, in theory, you should love but just don't?
For me it's Catherynne Valente. Every time her work is described to me, it sounds like something that I would love. Then I read it and I just don't. - Katy S
Lev Grossman. - Jennifer Dittrich
China Mieville. - RepoRat
I have mixed feelings about Mieville. I really liked his YA novel Un Lun Dun, but I haven't been as engaged with his adult work. - Katy S
Neil Gaiman. - Soup in a TARDIS
After slogging through two of the Bas Lag novels and hating them, I didn't even bother looking at Un Lun Dun. Possibly I should. - RepoRat
Kameron Hurley. There's such a thing as *too* grim-n-gritty. - RepoRat
I haven't been able to finish Perdido Street Station, but loved Un Lun Dun, City and the City and Kraken. They felt very different. - Jennifer Dittrich
Cherie Priest too, come to think of it. - Soup in a TARDIS
Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men was good in the sense that it had moral concepts and was a "thinky" book, but I've hated everything else I've read of his. I feel like The Grapes of Wrath is so classic I should read it, but I just can't make myself. He's also the only author I've started a book and stopped. - Heather
Charles Dickens. - Jennifer Dittrich
Guy who wrote Ulysses ? Ugh. - Christina Pikas from iPhone
Jenny H.
Twitter conversation with Christopher Moore! *dies a little happy death* #fangirl
And now I want to re-read Lamb. :) - Jenny H. from Android
This is so awesome! :) - Ken Morley
Woooooah - Stephen Mack
I'm still smiling about it. :) - Jenny H. from Android
Katy S
How long ago does a book need to be set before you consider it historical fiction.
Prior to the author's lived experience, I guess? - RepoRat
well...if you go by one of asimov's short stories...or was it of the two, history happens as soon as it's past. so this very conversation is already historical even before i finish typing :) - Sir Shuping is just sir
Usually about 10-15 years or so prior to writing? Events will color how you write about the past, even the near past. I'd consider something like "Platoon" historical, even though it was produced not /that/ long after the Vietnam war had ended. - Jennifer Dittrich
I don't read much historical fiction, but I guess I wouldn't think of it as a matter of time elapsed, but more as fiction that depends on a specific historical backdrop for specific plot points. - Victor Ganata
Victor - that's how I've been thinking about it, but I've been listening to people today state that certain time periods (as written by modern authors) that occurred before I was born can't be historical fiction. I think they're trying to not feel old by classifying things set during their lifetime as not being historical fiction. - Katy S from iPhone
my pet peeves in this area: 1) is contemporary fiction written, say, a century ago historical fiction? 2) it can't be historical fiction if it's got dragons in it. that makes it fantasy. IMO - Christina Pikas
oh and eleanor and park is called historical fiction in overdrive, i think. what is that in the 1990s? - Christina Pikas
I'm with Victor on this. It depends if the time period is an integral part of the story or whether it's just scenery :-) - Marina's Godmother :-)
teen readers here talked about E & P as historical fiction during our panel - maʀtha
Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children From Birth - -
Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children From Birth -
"In between dispensing advice on breast-feeding and immunizations, doctors will tell parents to read aloud to their infants from birth, under a new policy that the American Academy of Pediatrics will announce on Tuesday. With the increased recognition that an important part of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life, and that reading to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills, the group, which represents 62,000 pediatricians across the country, is asking its members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud, every time a baby visits the doctor. “It should be there each time we touch bases with children,” said Dr. Pamela High, who wrote the new policy. It recommends that doctors tell parents they should be “reading together as a daily fun family activity” from infancy. This is the first time the academy — which has issued recommendations on how long mothers should nurse their babies and advises parents to keep children... more... - Jessie from Bookmarklet
"Reading, as well as talking and singing, is viewed as important in increasing the number of words that children hear in the earliest years of their lives. Nearly two decades ago, an oft-cited study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than have those of less educated, low-income parents, giving the children who have heard... more... - Jessie
"Reading aloud is also a way to pass the time for parents who find endless baby talk tiresome. “It’s an easy way of talking that doesn’t involve talking about the plants outside,” said Erin Autry Montgomery, a mother of a 6-month-old boy in Austin, Tex. Low-income children are often exposed little to reading before entering formal child care settings. “We have had families who do not... more... - Jessie
Well, yeah... - MoTO: Team Marina
Another way to get kids' books into homes is the Dolly Parton Imagination Station: one free book a month mailed to the child, every month from birth until fifth birthday: . (Hey, there's a version for blind kids, too. ) - Betsy
i read to my babies from birth because i knew about the research, but everyone thought i was crazy or weird. hope this gets more attention - Christina Pikas
Jenny H.
I have read every novel, novella, and short story Stephen King has written up til 2000 and a handful since then. #SaturdayFF These are some of my favorites:
Shiningnovel (1).jpg
bachman books.jpg
I like all of those, too. For a while I had read everything and then I stopped for some reason. Mr. Mercedes is the first I've read (aside from some anthologized short stories) in quite some time. I don't know if I'll go back and read all that I've missed, but I might have to revisit some of those short story collections. - Katy S
I read Joyland recently and quite liked it. I've probably read 10-20% of his output but even that seems like a lot. - John Dupuis
I was a little obsessed between ages 11 and 17. - Katy S
Me too, Katy. Mostly, it was what I had available to read at my house. ;) Most of his early work, I read by the time I was 15. - Jenny H. from Android
Crazier than a shithouse rat. *giggles* - Jenny H. from Android
My mom checked them out for me at the library before I turned 12 (at that time, kids under 12 couldn't check out books in the adult department). Then I started blowing my allowance on his books. :) - Katy S
I just borrowed my mom's beat up paperbacks. :) - Jenny H. from Android
I was the only one who read horror in our family. Thankfully, my parents weren't into censoring what I read and were more than happy to provide access to it. - Katy S
That's good. My mom didn't seem to care what I was reading, as long as I was quiet while she was reading. :) - Jenny H. from Android
Their general philosophy regarding censoring kids' reading is that if you keep your kids from reading something, they'll seek it out and hide it and, when they have questions about it, they won't talk to you. - Katy S
That's pretty wise! - Jenny H. from Android
I've read 64 out 72 of King's books, according to this quiz thingy: - Starmama from FFHound(roid)!
I think the last King book I completed was Needful Things. I tried both Gerald's Game and Insomnia but didn't finish either. Haven't read him since. - Akiva
Starmama, that's a lot! Akiva, Gerald's Game was beyond awful. I liked Insomnia because my mom had the same form (early waking), so I found it interesting. He's written some crap, for sure, but I've enjoyed 70-75% of what I've read. - Jenny H. from Android
I liked the idea behind Insomnia but it seriously needed editing. I swear there were 100 pages of the main character just sitting on his porch or looking in his closet. It just droned on and on. - Akiva
Well I've had plenty of time...I first read Carrie in 1979, have been hooked on his writing ever since :-) - Starmama from FFHound(roid)!
34 for me (although there were a couple I couldn't remember one way or the other so I didn't count them). It looks like I pretty much stopped with the novels after Gerald's Game, too, but I kept reading his short story collections and nonfiction. - Katy S from iPhone
I should at least read On Writing. I've heard good things about it but I have just so little respect for him as a writer. He's a great storyteller but he's not even close to the level of writers I really adore like DFW, Pynchon, Calvino, Wolfe, Barthelme, Davidson, Ligotti, etc. He's like Zelazny: he just churns out book after book and they're almost all good but they're like cars coming off an assembly line. - Akiva
Akiva - I really think that his short stories and novellas are his best work. To me, anyway, his writing feels more focused when he's restrained by length. - Katy S
On Writing is quite good. I read Carrie as a HS freshman - don't think I read much of King's fiction after that except the occasional short story. - Corinne L
But, I don't read his work because I think it will be of the highest literary quality. :) Having said that, comparing his work to some Amish-Christian fiction I tried out recently (I was trying to read outside of my comfort zone), his writing looks like the work of a genius. I can't even begin to tell you how bad those books were. - Katy S
Katy, totally. The Long Walk is probably the best thing he's ever written outside of The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet. Rage, too, is another favorite of mine although that's quite controversial now. And I know I'm being a pompous smug wad but, as a writer, I'm just extra critical; it's tough for me to just let go and be a reader. - Akiva
I can be pretty critical, too. I've had to learn to tone that down a bit in public when doing readers' advisory - I can't push my preferences over what people actually want and be effective. I do like the Richard Bachman novellas. The Long Walk is thoroughly engaging. - Katy S
I agree that he excels at novellas and short stories. The Long Walk is one that has haunted me since childhood. So good. Rage was excellent, but definitely dark. - Jenny H. from Android
Song of the Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown review – a remarkable insight into a lost world | Books | The Guardian -
Song of the Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown review – a remarkable insight into a lost world | Books | The Guardian
Song of the Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown review – a remarkable insight into a lost world | Books | The Guardian
"JRR Tolkien thought his students should read more Snorri Sturluson than Shakespeare. The 13th-century Icelandic writer and chieftain was the author of three hugely influential books of stories (the Edda, Heimskringla and Egil's Saga) that created the Viking world we are familiar with today: the myths of Valhalla and the Valkyries, stories of elves, dwarfs, dragons and their gods – one-eyed Odin and red-bearded Thor – as well as the Twilight of the Gods, or Ragnarök. "Snorri is the Homer of the North," says Brown in this wonderfully evocative biography, rich with Norse myths, told against the stark backdrop of Iceland in the middle ages. Snorri grew up in the shadow of Hekla, a volcano known as the Mouth of Hell. He was "crafty, cunning and ambitious", and his scheming led to a violent end. But thanks to his "wizardry with words" he lives on in our imaginations, inspiring the likes of Richard Wagner, Neil Gaiman and Tolkien, whose Bilbo Baggins is like Snorri himself: "fat, cowardly,... more... - Eivind from Bookmarklet
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